Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
by Mary Roach

Screen Shot 2013-03-03 at 5.41.19 PMAn hilarious review of the various scientific studies of human sexuality.

Opening paragraph:  A man sits in a room, manipulating his kneecaps.  It is 1983, on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles.  The man, a study subject, has been told to do this for four minutes, stop, and then resumed for a minute more.  Then he can put his pants back on, collect his payment, and go home with an entertaining story to tell at suppertime.  The study concerns human sexual response.  Kneecap manipulation elicits no sexual response, on this planet anyway, and that is why the man is doing it:  It’s the control activity.  (Earlier, the man was told to manipulate the more usual suspect while the researchers measured whatever it was they were measuring.)

Quotes from critics:  “The funniest science writer in the country.” (New Yorker); “Roach is a fearless and witty reporter.” (Wall Street Journal); “Roach is one of those rare writers who can tackle the most obscure unpleasantness and distill the data into a hilarious and informative package. . . . It’s a wonderful read, sprinkled with facts you can quote to amaze your friends.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

Bio:  Mary Roach (1959-) is an American author, specializing in popular science about the human body—such as, cadavers, life in space, and the alimentary canal.  When asked how she picks her topics, she replied “Well, it’s got to have a little science, it’s got to have a little history, a little humor—and something gross.”  According to her website, “I often write about science, though I don’t have a science degree and must fake my way through interviews with experts I can’t understand.”